I found Art from Ashes when I was in a very dark place. I was undergoing my own personal transformation and felt like I had to do something outside of myself to keep moving forward. My application to volunteer with AfA was a blind attempt at paying back the karmic debt I felt I’d accrued. Little did I know how serendipitous that decision would prove to be.
I expressed my interest in facilitating in the Phoenix Rising program immediately. I’ve always loved language and believed in its power. I wanted to do whatever I could to help others realize that rock bottom is a great place to transform your life. I participated in the adult workshop and absolutely loved it. I found clarity and peace surrounding issues that once tormented me. I live my life differently today because of that workshop. My story is MINE. This knowledge is empowering. I feel no pressure to create a story that will impress you or anyone else, because I now know that my truth has nothing to do with someone else’s view of the world.
After the conclusion of the adult workshop, I began my journey as a co-facilitator. My first workshops were in a charter school in downtown Denver. The youth showed me honesty and courage. As a facilitator, I created the space, and in return, the youth gave me the gift of their stories. That’s the stuff that sustains and excites me. It’s hard to describe the magic that takes place when young people feel safe enough to connect and express themselves. The curriculum is brilliant, and each young person makes it their own. I am forever touched by the words shared in the workshops I’ve been a part of.
I love my life today. I love AfA and the open arms they showed me when I was broken. I personally experienced the expression, connection and transformation this organization fosters. I am so incredibly blessed to approach every workshop, drop-in and event as an opportunity to give back what was so freely given to me.
– MJ Smart, Art from Ashes Facilitator